Murky Data Sounds Good; Shanghai Halts Land Auction

WSJ: Murky Data Add to China’s Housing Headache
Marketed as villas, the duplexes in the sprawling Shimao Noble Town aren’t quite complete and don’t have permits for sale. That makes them invisible to both national and local statisticians trying to get a handle on the size of China’s massive glut of empty and unfinished homes.

Already, according to official statistics, China’s inventory of unsold homes is equal, on a square-foot basis, to more than six Manhattans. The glut is a drag on the world’s No. 2 economy, which is poised to report its slowest annual growth in a quarter century.
Haidian district in Beijing or Chaoyang are probably as large, or larger, than Manhattan. Manhattan has a lot of square footage, but that really doesn't sound like much considering the number and size of Chinese cities.

The issue moving forward is whether the slowdown in the Northeast rustbelt is the beginning of a larger recession or a regional/sector slowdown. Real estate investment is way down in those provinces and much of China would be similarly vulnerable if the local economy slowed.

Elsewhere, lunacy.

Caixin: As Home Prices Soar in Shanghai, Gov't Halts Land Auction
Authorities in Shanghai have suspended the auction of a plot of premium residential land as the city government comes under pressure to rein in housing prices.
Chinese first tier cities are running out of prime land and they're restricting land sales in order to drive up the prices, which has led to high premiums on fewer land sales. High premiums lead to higher costs, which are passed on in the form of higher home prices. Of course, if there's less land developed, then the existing stock of homes are worth more. In a normal economy, the market sorts it out, but in China, government officials like to play policy pinball.

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